Monday, January 7, 2013

Top Down or Bottom Up?

What is the best direction to stitch a Baptist Fan pattern when using the EZ Arc quilting tool?
Way back in the last century, I learned the Baptist Fan pattern when I first did hand quilting with experienced quilters.

To draw the first fan, a string was pinned to the bottom right corner and a pencil on the other end of the string was moved in a wide arc to mark different sized arcs. The pin/pencil/string was then moved to the bottom of the outside line and the arcs of another fan were drawn. With fans drawn completely across the quilt, several of us could quilt at the same time.

We sat in front of the frame with one hand under the quilt and the other hand on top with the needle and thread. We buried our knot at the one end of a line, stitched the arc, and tied the knot at the other end, then cut the thread and started again on the next line, continuing until a fan was completed.  We stitched one row, and then rolled the quilt and stitched another row above the first.

Sewing from upper right and down to the left is the natural sweep of the arm for right-handed folks (the opposite is true for lefties), so that pattern was very easy for me to do right to left, and that is still the most comfortable movement for me today.

We worked from the bottom of the quilt up to the top, which is the normal way of stitching most of the quilts rolled on these handmade frames.  With a longarm, my favorite way to quilt is to work from the top down, and that is completely different from what I was used to doing for the Baptist Fan. No problem! 

You can easily start at the top with the fans swinging down because the EZ Arc quilting tool lets you stitch in any direction. In fact, you could start at the top right and work to the left if you want. Use the method that has the most natural movement for you.

What I usually do is load the fabric, batting and quilt top and sew across the top, then baste lines about 8" apart with large stitches back and forth across the quilt all the way down to the bottom, rolling the quilt on the back or upper bar as I go. I start stitching the Baptist Fan pattern at the bottom and work my way back up the quilt the way we always did when hand quilting in a frame, removing the basting stitches before quilting the fans. 

That's what works best for me even with the EZ Arc quilting tool, and you will find what works best for you as you continue to use the tool.

The EZ Arc tool can be fastened anywhere on your quilt and the fans stitched in any direction you want. Practice moving the tool to see which way is more comfortable and works best for you.

With this new tool, we are no longer limited by the swing of the arm the way we were when hand quilting, so just try different positions and movements until you find your favorite, then stitch away.

The answer to the question, 'Top Down or Bottom Up?' is 'Any Direction!'

Whatever works, I say. No problem!

Happy Stitching!


PS - remember to watch for Feather Wreath Contest details on January 15!


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